“Slumber Party” is an odd duck for me. I don’t think it’s a bad episode. It’s well constructed, tells a unique story, and doesn’t have me shouting out “WTF???” on continuity or plotting. The issue I have with it is that I’m not a huge fantasy fan. I get it, Charlie is from a different world, a geek culture that is immersed in the works of J.R.R Tolkien and in this case, L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz series. Living in a fantasy world is a whole different ball of wax compared with the horror/sci-fi elements we get with Supernatural. When the two mesh, it’s interesting, but not exactly a match made in Heaven. Still, I admire writer Robbie Thompson for trying.
There’s No Place Like Home
Fun title card aside, this was one bananas way to share an origin story, that’s for sure. While it was nice to see the two original Men of Letters that drew the assignment for this Kansas bunker, apparently the first six months involved a bunch of chess and little to no action, much to the chagrin of the junior member of the pair. As this show loves to stress, be careful what you wish for! Suddenly Dorothy shows up with the Wicked Witch? Okay. She’s the real Dorothy, with the real Wicked Witch from a real place called Oz? Umm…okay. Oh, and she’s well known among these guys in 1935 and she was their first case, which was to figure out how to kill the witch? I’m trying to play along here…
Just to remind us which show you are watching, this isn’t a sweet little girl in a dress, braided pig tails, and ruby slippers, nor is this witch a cackling Margaret Hamilton in green makeup. Dorothy is a tough hunter, the daughter of a legendary Man of Letters, and the witch has some real lethal powers. Enough to kill the said junior member of the MOL duo, Jenkins. Time to blow up childhood fantasies all over the place. That’s such a Supernatural thing to do.
This episode had it’s moments. The first being that Charlie fits like a glove with the brothers. In order to enjoy the episode, you’ve got to like Charlie. I do, and I think she was a wonderful character who got a most undeserving end. I thought she was the perfect little sister to Sam and Dean, the whip smart dreamer loaded with spunk and willing to embrace the impossible. Their adventures together were fun. But I know, she was an acquired taste too, and this episode did take Charlie a bit over the top. Come to think of it, the entire plot was a bit over the top, but given the dreck that had shown up so far in season nine, it was a welcome change.
I loved the meeting of the Wicked Witch and Crowley. The fact that neither were phased by meeting one another was really fun. Best line of the episode was Crowley telling Sam and Dean what she said. The loud hiss he made was hysterical. Crowley whistling “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and calling Sam and Dean the “Scarecrow and Tin Man” was a great touch as well. Clearly he was having fun with all this.
Also, the Wicked Witch was a true a formidable foe. Her ability to throw deadly green lightning, transform into black smoke and move through the vents added a real danger element to the story. Okay, her ability to mind control people was a bit cheesy. It was a lot cheesy actually. Blue eyed Sam and Dean as witch robots pursuing Dorothy and Charlie in the garage pushed this borderline story into camp territory. My pretty? Everything else deviated from the books and movie, why didn’t that line?
However, because the witch was so deadly, we could see the contrived plotting coming a mile away. Of course Dean was going to take full advantage of having an angel around should his friends die, like when Charlie got hit with that flash of lightning. That’s two episodes in a row now. Ezekiel was right, he can’t keep doing this. Yet he does, and it happens in the next one too, promising to drag out this already tired storyline. Dean is getting caught in more lies, this time trying to explain to Charlie how she was healed, and that’s not a plot point I find very entertaining. The whole setup is cliche and it stinks. I know, it’s a setup for consequences that play out later, but I still hated watching it. Dean is better than this.
There was also a clever parallel made between Dorothy and Sam and Dean, living with the fact that their lives were out there in books for people to read and make judgments. The books certainly made their lives seem more glamorous. It does bring home the whole idea of the truth is stranger than fiction, even though this is fiction! The reveal that Chuck’s unpublished works were shared online by Becky was really nice to hear. That was always my fanwank before this episode. That allowed this piece of priceless dialogue:
Sam: You really can’t delete those from the Internet?
Charlie: Not even I can do that. Come on!
Dean: Where do you even find them?
Charlie: A top-secret place I call Amazon. And someone uploaded all the unpublished works. I thought it was fanfic at first, but it was clearly Edlund’s work.
Sam: Who uploaded it?
Charlie: I don’t know. Their screen name was beckywinchester176. Ring a bell?
Sam: None. Uh, nobody’s. Uh, no, there are no bells. Uh…No.
What a smooth move there Sam! Speaking of Sam, why is he having such a hard time calling the bunker home? I get it, the point was that he has spent his whole life on the road and Dean remembers having a home as a kid. Sam hasn’t had luck with homes. Okay, understandable. Still not sure why that came up in this episode, but okay. Is it just so Sam could throw in a “There’s no place like home,” line in at the end? Odd.
I also LOVED the extra room reveals of the Men of Letters bunker. They had an unknown garage? How did they not discover that before! The vehicles in there were really sweet. I’m stunned that there was no mention in later episodes of Dean taking them all for a spin, even though we know he did. How could he not? Did you see that sweet looking green hunderbird? I call dibs on that one!
The computer room was a fun find, but as an IT person, what Charlie did was laughable. I saw the panel, it’s just a bunch of knob and tube wiring! That’s what was used to wire a house, not a computer. It was all too neat looking. Really old mainframes of the 1950’s were riddled with wires and tubes in a ridiculously unmanageable hodge podge. How in the world in that short amount of time she could plug in a modern day Surface tablet (product placement!) is beyond me. Given the low processing capacity of those older units (modern cell phones do way more than those old machines), not to mention lack of true modern chip circuitry, it just wouldn’t work with a mere connection by cable. It would involve getting output out of a magnetic tape and punchcards and that would just be codes that need to be deciphered. It’s like in Independence Day when the aliens were surprisingly Mac compatible. But hey, it is a fantasy episode, right? Maybe she used some of that same spell magic that got Dorothy into this mess.
Still, despite all the goodness, the episode veered too much into fantasy territory for my tastes. While Supernatural is clearly rooted as a spectacular and mythical heroes’ journey, a lot of the monsters and lore is researchable and the show made them plausible in this universe. This plot, with just the mere existence of the golden skies of Oz with flying monkeys and the sketchy spell work of Dorothy that captured her and the wicked witch in some jar for all these years stretched the plausibility meter for me. Even more than the guy killing people for breaking cosplay rules by enslaving a fairy that he summoned using a book he bought on eBay. At least the way “LARP and the Real Girl” was framed, the setting of tents and woods in a park in Michigan was more down to earth.
In the end though, Charlie got her fantasy and gave everything up to go adventuring in Oz with Dorothy. Yep, I still had a problem with that whole opening the door to Oz thing. Too technicolor loaded fairy dust for this show. It was nice closure for Charlie though, until they could bring her back to give her a really dark and terrible story. Right, season ten. Given what happened, this fantasy wasn’t a bad draw after all.
Some Great Lines
Charlie: So, where is this Commodore 64 of yours?
I particularly love this line because we still have a Commodore 64! A nice piece of history to have around. It still works too!
Dean: I told you to stay in the dungeon.
Charlie: Bet you say that to all the girls.
Dorothy: So, you coming or what?
Charlie: What? With you? To Oz?
Dorothy: Yeah. You said you were looking for adventure. Well, here it is, Red. Come help me find my damn dog.
Dean: You have no idea what’s in Oz. I mean, t-there’s flying monkeys, armies of witches. There’s all kinds of danger.
Crowley: Really, after all I did with Ms. Defying Gravity?
Given how bad the season has been so far and how this was the first solid episode, I give “Slumber Party” a grade of a B. Not a classic, but it didn’t suck either. Coming up next, something again much better, “Dog Dean Afternoon.”